After riding out the Greek banking crisis earlier this year with Eurobank Ergasias SA, Fairfax Financial Holdings is deepening its stake in Greece by buying the bank's insurance unit.
On Tuesday, Fairfax announced it will pay 316 million euros ($481.6 million Cdn) for an 80 per cent majority stake in Eurolife ERB Insurance Group Holdings SA.
- Greece settles terms with EU to get $14B bailout for banks
Eurolife distributes its insurance products and services through branches of Eurobank Ergasias, the Greek bank where Fairfax purchased at 13.6 per cent stake in 2014.
It is the third largest insurer in Greece with gross written premiums of 241 million euros as of Sept. 30, 2015. It sells life and non-life insurance products as well as brokerage services in Greece and Romania.
Eurolife will continue to be led by its current CEO Alexander Sarrigeorgiou.
The European Central Bank flagged Eurobank, along with other Greek banks, during its 2015 stress testing of banks. That means the bank is expected to raise its capital reserves.
The cash deal will boost Eurobank's core tier 1 capital ratio by about 26 basis points to 17.8 per cent and complies with a restructuring plan approved by the European Commission, it said.
Eurobank has a strategy of gradually exiting from non-banking operations to focus on core banking.
Greek banks were forced to implement capital controls earlier this year after Greece's credit terms with lenders expired amid a snap election.
Greece is currently implementing terms of a new bailout and hoping for a debt bailout after the reelection of prime minister Alexis Tsipras.
Fairfax was reported to be among the foreign buyers who took advantage of very low bank stock prices earlier this year to boost its ownership of Greek banks. It now owns 17 per cent of Eurobank, according to Reuters.
Fairfax is a Toronto-based holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management. It has holdings throughout Europe and in India as well as in North America.